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F1 drivers respond to Norris’ first victory in Miami: ‘It took a long time’



F1 drivers respond to Norris' first victory in Miami: 'It took a long time'

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A smile kept creeping onto Lando Norris’ face during the post-race media sessions.

His first victory in Formula 1 was a long time coming. He came close a few times, but was thwarted by small mistakes, such as at Qatar 2023, and things beyond his control, such as the rain and strategic calls of Sochi 2021. He found himself on the F1 grid in 2019 with McLaren as a 19-year-old. year-old, and now in his sixth season and heading into the Miami Grand Prix weekend, the Briton had secured one pole position, been on the podium 15 times and completed more than 6,000 laps.

As each driver pulled into the media pen for interviews, almost everyone touched on the same point: It’s about time.

Fernando Alonso predicted this would be “the first of many victories” for Lando Norris. (Kym Illman/Getty Images)

“Well done to Lando,” said Fernando Alonso. “First victory after so many podium finishes. I’m very happy for him. Hopefully (he remembers) this day – the first of many victories. The Aston Martin driver was not the only one who indicated that this would not be the final victory for the 24-year-old. Max Verstappen said: “I am very happy for Lando. It’s a long time ago. And it won’t be his last. He deserves it today.”

The victory came at a crucial time in the sport. Over the last 28 Grands Prix, Red Bull has topped all but two races, Singapore 2023 and Australia 2024, both won by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Verstappen has remained largely unchallenged and has built up a fairly decent lead race after race. But this weekend in Miami, McLaren took advantage of the opportunity it had to beat Red Bull in a straight fight. With Norris pulling ahead of Verstappen after the safety car, it became a matter of new tires and clean air to beat an incredibly fast car.

McLaren's British driver Lando Norris (R) is congratulated by Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen after winning the 2024 Miami Formula One Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Florida, on May 5, 2024. (Photo by Giorgio Viera/AFP)

“I’m very happy for Lando. It’s a long time ago. And it won’t be his last. He deserves it today,” said Max Verstappen (left) about Lando Norris (right). (Giorgio Viera / AFP)

“He deserves a race win probably many, many years ago,” said Mercedes’ George Russell. “And I think for all drivers in Formula 1 in this era of dominance of one team and one driver it is always great to see someone get the chance to take a victory.”

Norris started last year’s Miami GP 16th and finished P17 ahead of a struggling McLaren, which turned its season around in the second half of 2023. Now it has its first win in three years. Oscar Piastri said he was “very happy for (Norris) and for the whole team, and I think we deserve it. Our trajectory over the past twelve months has been moving towards this moment.”

Lewis Hamilton reminisced about his first F1 win, which was also with McLaren, in 2007. The team still has “a big part of my heart”, he said, and was happy to see them winning again. The Woking team’s last F1 victory was with Daniel Ricciardo at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Before drivers conduct post-race interviews, it is traditional for drivers to briefly talk to their team while crew members pat them on the helmet or back. However, Norris joyfully launched himself over the barrier, while the McLaren crew were just as happy to embrace their new race winner. The emotion overflowed.

“I’m just really happy for Lando. As much as we want to beat each other and come out on top, it is always emotional to see so much emotion from one of your competitors,” said Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. “We all grew up together. I remember watching Lando when he was in KF3 and we all had the same dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver one day.”

Norris is no stranger to hate; memes and nicknames like “Lando No Wins” are popping up on social media as people discuss his record. But the Briton says the words of those closest to him have more meaning, and thanked his competitors for their praise and support. In the Parc Ferme and the media pen, several drivers hugged Norris and congratulated him on this moment that he will probably remember forever.

“As much as you hate them when you put the helmet on, and you want to beat them, and you don’t care who’s who, I’ve always had respect for the people I’ve raced against. So if anyone comes [to me], especially people who have achieved a lot, because it always means a little more,” said Norris. “So when Lewis, Fernando, Max, Charles, Carlos, when they come up to you or people have good words for you, I really appreciate those things. Because it means something to these people. Maybe from others, but not.

“Of these people, they are the people who know what it takes to accomplish these kinds of things for the work, time and effort it takes to do something like this.”

(Main photo of Lando Norris and George Russell: Giorgio Viera / AFP)